My name is Ruth, and I know first hand that homelessness can happen to anyone. It was 1984 when I stepped off the plane in Denver. I looked up and was shocked to see how much open sky there was. It was a very freeing change of scenery for me, coming from a small town in Alabama. Those tall southern trees tower over everything, and the sky gets shaded out. I love Colorado for its change of seasons, but my love for the outdoors stems from my childhood memories of those Alabama forests.
It amazes me how many parks there are in Denver. One can appreciate nature throughout the city. I love sitting under a tree in City Park, overlooking the lush greenery and lakes as I crack open a book and let the breeze blow away my troubles. My favorite reading is science fiction and history, and my favorite book is Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy. Denver has a colorful history including a lot of scandals, but scandals always make for a fun read!
I’ve been with Earthlinks for a little over a year now. I remember how scared I was when I first became homeless. Ever since I moved to Colorado, I had employment over the span of 30 years. I started in factory work, managed an apartment complex, participated in Parks and Rec for the city, and taught remedial English at a community college. I was a jack-of-all-trades, a master of none.
Throughout, I prayed my security would never be threatened. I was laid off from my last job, and another job eluded me. It was the first time in my life that finding a job was proving to be difficult. The job search went on for too long and my savings ran out. Before I knew it, my priority was making sure to get into an overnight shelter in time.
While job searching during the winter, I slipped on ice and tore my ACL. I was on bed rest through Samaritan care until I could get an operation. I was in a wheelchair during recovery, and I came to the realization that employers were not hiring me because of my age and injury. It wasn’t until my first day at Earthlinks that I felt excited to do something productive again.
In my time being at Earthlinks, I was fortunate to get into housing fairly quickly. Now, I spend my time in the wood workshop crafting mason bee boxes and working on candles. It’s satisfying to see the end result of a product after collaborating with others. I’m currently in the newly formed Participant Leadership Program, and it’s allowed me to see the bigger picture of what Earthlinks’ mission is.
Sometimes, getting a wider viewpoint is all it takes to feel better in tough times. Reading expands my viewpoint. My favorite book explores how the same people placed in differing circumstances are treated very differently. There was a time when my homeless circumstances made it hard for people to look me in the eye. Sometimes, I’ll look up to the infinite night sky to give myself perspective. Other times, it’s nice to walk out to our garden to nourish my soul a little bit. Earthlinks sees that my circumstances do not define who I am, and for this I am especially grateful.